Alex Keeling-Oliver leads Gateway bowlers into 2022 season
Sunday, December 11, 2022 | 11:01 AM
Alex Keeling-Oliver finished seventh in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Bowling League’s East section last year with a 184.03 average with a high game of 242 and a top series of 644.
The Gateway junior used those totals to earn a trip to the WPIBL and Western Regional singles tournaments.
Keeling-Oliver, the captain of a youthful Gators boys’ team with no seniors in the varsity lineup, hopes to again make an impact and return to postseason action and bring a few of his teammates along with him.
“He’s doing quite well and is excited to see how he can improve,” Gateway coach Joe Bowman said.
“He is gaining more and more experience with every practice and match. Things are really starting to click.”
Bowman said he also is seeing great things from sophomores Josh Zlokas and Landon Lohr, returning starters from last year who worked on their games through junior and travel leagues.
“They both bowl a lot,” Bowman said.
Lohr owned highs of a 238 game and a 552 series last year, while Zlokas showed his talent in the form of a 226 game during section play.
Fellow sophomore Kai Jones also returns with starting experience and helps form the varsity team with newcomers in sophomore Allon Wallace Jr. and freshman Chase Owens.
Wallace, in his debut for Gateway against Redeemer Lutheran on Dec. 2, bowled a 205 game as part of a 561 series.
“Allon really was poised in his first match,” Bowan said.
“He’s played other sports like basketball and football, and he wanted to give high school bowling a try. He’s part of a bowling family. He has tons and tons of talent. We just have to develop it a bit. He’s still finding his groove. He’s just a really competitive kid.”
Bowman said freshman Chase Owens is showing potential.
“Chase hadn’t really bowled before, only just a little bit recreationally, but he was all in right from the start,” Bowman said.
“He’s really excited to develop his game more.”
Keeling-Oliver had a team-best 222 game and 556 series as Gateway beat Valley, 5-2, last Wednesday (Dec. 7) at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“We have a pretty young team, but there is a lot of talent,” Bowman said.
The top two teams in each boys and girls section again earn automatic bids to the WPIBL team championships Feb. 15 and 16. The Gateway boys hope to return to the team playoffs. They were third in the East section last year behind Plum and Burrell.
There are also a number of wild-card berths up for grabs.
That’s where the Gateway girls found themselves last year after finishing third behind Burrell and Plum. But their resume, which included a 6-4 record in the section, allowed them to earn a spot in the playoffs.
From that team, junior captain Gelsey Stone returns, along with junior Autumn Keeling-Oliver and junior Kaylee Matthews.
Stone was tops among the returning trio last year with a 151.10 average over 30 games with season-bests of a 214 game and a 541 series.
Her efforts qualified her for the WPIBL singles championships and the Western Regional tournament.
“Last year, Gelsey was a co-captain with (graduate) Anyssa (Keeling-Oliver), and now, it’s her team,” Bowman said.
Stone suffered a forearm injury during the WPIBL team tournament last year which affected her performance in the singles playoffs, but, Bowman said, she battled through and completed both postseason events.
“We had to learn how to tape a wrist and hold her wrist in place because she said she was bowling, no matter what,” Bowman said.
“It was pretty painful for her. We got her a compression sleeve, which she still wears. She also has a good wrist brace. We also revamped her equipment. The injury has healed, and she is looking forward to having a really strong season.”
Autumn Keeling-Oliver led Gateway with a top game of 166 and a team-best 495 series in Gateway’s loss to Valley last week which put the team at 1-1 on the young season.
Gateway was to host Plum on Wednesday at New Great Valley Lanes.
The Gators are scheduled to bowl against Burrell next Wednesday (Dec. 21) in a return to Wildlife Lanes that closes out the December portion of the schedule.
“It should be a pretty interesting year in the section overall,” Bowman said.
“There are some really good bowlers throughout the section.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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